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Sunday, April 30, 2017

How to Political Action

This is all just me thinking it through, it's not an expert opinion at all.

So you want to change some minds, change some attitudes. What do you actually do?

I'm going to think through a plan, which I might even execute, if I get inspired enough. Maybe. I'm pretty lazy, and pretty busy.

Let's say I want to do some Art to change the minds of the people who live just outside of Bellingham. There's a lot of Trump voters in the rural areas surrounding the small extremely left wing town where I live. They're perfectly nice people, they're not three-headed idiots, they're not fools. They do lean a bit religious.

I'm not going to tip them over to voting Democrat. Not gonna happen. They have multi-generational identities tied up with voting Republican. My goal has to be to get them to support more moderate Republicans, to stay home when the choice is some radical asshole, that kind of thing. My goal has to be to moderate their idea of what a good candidate looks like.

Baby steps. My first job was to figure out Who I might be able to reach, and What kind of small attitude change I might try to induce. Remember, the american civil rights movement didn't start with "we demand to dismantle the White Hegemony" it started with things like "we want to have lunch at a not very good cafe."

I can use some stuff. These folks tend religious. They probably have a pretty fervent Love of Country. There's a good change they revere Reagan, to some degree. They're likely to hunt and/or fish. They don't trust authority.

Here's the concept I think I might be able to sell, essentially an environmentalist platform. Give them some pictures of American Wilderness, and point out that this is our heritage, it's literally ours in many cases (e.g. National Parks). It's beautiful, filled with tasty game and tasty fish! It's AMERICA and we LOVE IT! Then we toss in some photos of industry fat cats: "he creates jobs, but you know, he doesn't love you very much" as a lead-in to "and so Nixon created the EPA" with a picture of Nixon signing something with the implication that Nixon knew that the job creating fat cat needed to be reined in a bit. You know, to protect AMERICA.

And that's really it. Just leave it there. That's What to say.

Develop a guerrilla art delivery. Posters? Leaflets? Magazines left here and there? All of the above? Stickers with a graphic/line-drawing version of whatever picture of Nixon Signing Something I dig up? Build it all around a "Nixon created the EPA" slogan, I think. That's the other half of What, the What to do. You gotta get the message to the Who's after all, hanging this shit in some gallery is pointless.

The plan gives them something to agree with, something obvious. America is beautiful, America is great. It gives them a slightly weird picture they can nevertheless believe, and trust, that Nixon of all people created the EPA. It's slightly weird, but it's true. You can look it up. It gives them a story they can embrace, that a Republican was looking out for America, for the little guy, against the fat cats. I don't think anyone thinks Nixon was a great guy, but he was by golly a Republican.

Their worldview expands, I speculate, theorize, and hope, to include a notion that Republicans can be environmentalists. That perhaps they're the effective ones, actually. It's not a very big step, it's steeped in truth, and it has the potential to create change I approve of. It has potential to make the nice Republican folks around Bellingham look a little more askance at some asshole who wants to trash the environment.

For a followup, I could hit them with Teddy Roosevelt, National Parks, and the Pure Food and Drug Act.

Now, is this going to work to get a Democrat into the White House? Not by itself it's not.

But if this campaign and a handful of unrelated campaigns embracing similar sorts of things happened to occur with more or less decent timing, a sea change could occur. One of those so-called emergent phenomena, and we might just end up cracking a cycle of groupthink in the Republican rank-and-file. The groupthink is broken by a flanking action, it's not that you guys are wrong, it's not that Trump is Satan, it's just that Republicans were pro-environment all along and you just now remembered that.

In the end, you're not going to change the world by yourself. It's got to be some sort of emergent mass of modest changes all, somehow, pointed in the right direction. There are techniques to ease this along (see: Fake News), but in the end it just sort of happens, or doesn't.

So, pick a direction, design a strategy that's got a chance of actually inducing some sort of tiny change, and go for it. Don't look back, it's probably just you out there all alone. Dying in the desert. Sorry. But sometimes, not very often, it turns out that there's a whole bunch of people pushing in roughly the same direction, and something changes. You can only know for sure which was to push afterwards.

It's like scalding milk (heat milk until it boils, then go back in time to just before it boiled and holler "take it off the heat!" to your former self).

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